Jesus used Nature to explain the Kingdom of God, and how God relates to human beings. Born in a manger, he grew up as a carpenter’s son, living among village folk – farmers, fishermen, shepherds, .. He saw and lived an intimate relationship that exists between people and Mother Earth. He shared the Good News of God’s love that he experienced though Nature. He presented them in his parables and teachings– agriculture assures food, trees give fruits, vines provide drink, sheep in the pasture and fish in the water give rich nourishment, birds of the air are fed and even ephemeral lilies are colourfully attired by Nature. How much more will our loving Father take care of our every need! Jesus invites us to bloom like the lilies of the field and fly free like the birds of the air, trusting in Our Father’s love.
Till a few years ago we learnt in Catechism that our Christian Faith is founded on two pillars – love of God and love of our neighbour. Our Pope Francis has added another pillar – love of Nature. His Encyclical letter “Laudato Si’” addressed to all the followers of Jesus, and ‘all women and men of good will’ emphasises,
“Human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself.”(LS 66)
The goal of ‘Gujarat Jesuit Ecology Mission’ (GJEM)is to understand, integrate and spread Pope Francis’ third pillar of our Faith
‘More than in ideas or concepts as such, I (Pope Francis)am interested in how such a spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world… all need an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them’
Put simply, Eco Spirituality is communing with God in and through His creation. ‘In Him we live, move and have our being’ (Acts.17.28) – we are born and die in the lap of Mother Earth. Her fundamental elements – Earth, air, water, fire and space – keeps us alive. Our constant communion with Mother Earth is, then, our communion with God.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, in his well-known Spiritual Exercises, begins the Retreat with the ‘Principle and Foundation’. He says that human beings are created to commune with God. This communion is always through His creation. Use creation as much as you need to commune with God.
The Spiritual Exercises ends with the contemplation to attain love. Ignatius tells us that God dwells and labours in all his creatures, including us humans, sustaining our unique characteristics, and leading us to God.
The Mission of GJEM is to integrate and spread the third foundational Pillar of our Faith – a loving relationship with Nature. Communion with Nature and through Nature with the Creator Lord would then become the core of our discipleship of Jesus.
- Rappai Poothokaren SJ,